Chinatown in Binondo has always been me and my friends’ go to place whenever we want a quick bite of Chinese culinary. Ask anyone and the one street they could think of synonymous to it is Ongpin. Ongpin St. is like EDSA. It is quite long and has many streets connecting it to the busiest parts of Manila. Along one intersection, I discovered Cafe Chino located at the family-run Chinatown Lai Lai Hotel where one of the cheapest buffet in the area is being offered.
After touring our Japanese friend Chieka in downtown Manila, we proceeded to the hotel restaurant and had our lunch. Buffet lunch is priced at a cheap Php 299 per person. I was expecting the restaurant to be packed for it was a family day. But I was glad that it wasn’t. There was a sizable amount of families and groups coming in and out that the staff replenishes the food trays every now and then.Though the different buffet sets are served at fixed times, their menu varies. (Breakfast: 7 AM to 10 AM. Lunch: 11 AM to 2 PM. Dinner: 6 PM to 9 PM). The management opted to cook dishes depending on what they can find fresh in the market. No fixed menus so diners will only know what is available upon dining in. I think that is a great idea knowing that some customers might be picky.
At our lunch buffet, we tasted each of the following all served hot and fresh!
Winery, Charms and More!
After lunch, our gracious host, Ms. Hazel Yu, toured us around at the nearby wine shop. Here we found a wide array of imported liquor with interesting packaging. No Filipino products on sale but that is understandable since the bulk of customers are of other nationalities.
We noticed charm bracelets on display at the hotel reception counter which are in fact for sale. We were then led to the adjacent charms shop and was introduced to the kind owner Miss Jeanne. I have gotten familiar about the difference of each charm and what they represent. I am personally not into this stuff but looking at it in a different way is taking in the positive vibes and thoughts. And I guess even without charms, you can lead a happy and meaningful life. And yes, that afternoon turned into a brief time of reflection I think!
Our brief tour was capped with complimentary drinks back at Cafe Chino matched with enthusiastic exchanges of travel stories. Binondo has become more interesting and it will always be one of the top places I will recommend to first time Manila visitors.
You may include Chinatown Hotel Lai Lai’s Cafe Chino in your Binondo food tripping when visiting Manila. It is another alternative for those seeking a nice place to dine at a very affordable price.
Chinatown Lai Lai Hotel
801 Ongpin St, Santa Cruz, Manila, Metro Manila